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|I Am Skooter|
So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
Objectified delves a little deeper into the culture of consumption in numerous conversations with the people who make the things we consume. Notable designers interviewed include Dieter Rams of Braun(company), Marc Newson, Jonathan Ive of Apple, Chris Bangle of BMW and Karim Rashid (resplendent in purple sunglasses there aren’t words to describe.)
Rams opens the film, proclaiming Apple the only company to truly value design. Combine Braun’s history of design with the fact that North Americans traditionally view Europe as the home of good design and this comes as no small compliment.
Objectified explores a culture where the design of mass produced objects is increasingly important. During the 60s and 70s there wasn’t much focus on the shape of things we used. Function was important, and ergonomics were often overlooked. The classic example of the Good Grips swivel peeler is explored as an example of looking at the everyday objects we use in another way.
This leads to the exploration of the theme of the democratization of design. Our houses are increasingly filled with objects we think of as having been designed rather than simply manufactured. Mass retailers Ikea and Target are held up as examples of the process in action.
Ultimately, one of the points the film’s various interviewees reiterates is the fact good design is usually less design. Virtually every designer points out the contradiction of their profession: that good design should be timeless and last forever, but that they are paid to create the new thing that consumers want to replace the old with. Landfills are full of stuff that’s been discarded for no reason other than style and trends.
Dieter Rams sums up the future of design nicely in the film with his closing words:
The value, and especially the legitimization of design will be, in the future, measured more in terms of how it can enable us to survive—and I don’t think this is an exaggeration—to survive on this planet.
— Dieter Rams
Objectified is well worth seeing, and makes a nice companion piece for Helvetica. Hustwit also produced (but didn’t direct) the phenomenal Wilco documentary I Am Trying to Break Your Heart and has rapidly become one of my favourite filmmakers.